Hey Y'all!

It took me awhile to get here, but alas I'm finally joining the blogosphere of bloviation. It took a rant floating around in my head to send me toward this journey, but so be it. We'll have some fun here too. I promise. Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to leave me a comment or two. ~ diane

Friday, March 26, 2010

Some days are just like that . . .

Whenever I'm having a tough day (or week or month), I know I can find encouragement in the Psalms. It's why I gravitate back toward that book in the center of my Bible over and over again. Especially when my spirit seems to be dragging or my hopes seem stuck in neutral.

This morning I read one of my favorite chapters, Psalm 34. Here are a few of the verses I love:

Verse 1:  "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth."
Verse 4:  "I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears."
Verse 8:  "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!"
Verse 17:  "When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles."

But on those days when I'm really struggling, this next verse is the one I cling to. For years, I've prayed this verse for others who have suffered heartache or struggled with depression. But if I'm honest, I too have clung to these words when the day seems dark or hope seems distant.

Verse 18:  "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."

Maybe you're bouncing off the walls today, thrilled it's finally Friday! Or maybe life has been especially good and all your hopes and dreams are falling right into place. But if today isn't the brightest of days, or your heart just kinda aches a little - even if you don't have a clue as to WHY - then feel free to claim this verse for yourself and linger in its promise.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Beautiful Memoir

I've been under the weather the last few days, so I literally lost myself in a good book. You already know I love to read, but when I'm not feeling well, it's often my only solace. Sometimes I can't read, if the headaches are too severe. And there was that time when I had swine flu and just breathing was all I could handle . . .

Thankfully, this time around I was able to devour a book I'd recently discovered at a used bookstore. It's called A Widow's Walk: A Memoir of 9/11 by Marian Fontana. Here's some copy from the inside flap:

On September 11, I dropped my son off at his second full day of kindergarten. The sky was so blue it looked as if it had been ironed. I crossed the street, ordered coffee, and sat to wait for my husband to meet me. It was our eighth anniversary and Dave and I were about to begin a new chapter in our seventeen years together. Sipping coffee, I watched as a line of thick black smoke crept across the sky from Manhattan, oblivious to the fact that my life was about to change forever.

Marian's husband Dave was a firefighter from the elite Squad 1 in Brooklyn. That morning, he was leaving the firehouse when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. He wasn't even supposed to be at work, but Marian had insisted he switch shifts so he'd have their anniversary off . . .

This is one of those books you don't really want to read, but you find you can't-not-read. In fact, I read all 419 pages in less than 48 hours. It's been eight and a half years since the attacks of 9/11, and even though the wars still rage in Afghanistan and Iraq, it's easy to forget the unspeakable grief of that day in 2001. Especially for those of us who don't live in New York or Washington or Pennsylvania. But for these families, I'm quite sure the memories stay fresh in ways we can't even imagine.

And that's what made this book such an unforgettable read. The author shares her memories from those first moments of disbelief, through the undeniable certainty that her husband was buried in that eight-story rubble at Ground Zero, through the endless, exhausting wakes and funerals of fellow fire-fighters, to the acceptance of a new, unwanted life as a widow and single mother. Fontana's transparency, sometimes so painfully difficult to read much less imagine, takes you along with her through those first hours, weeks, and months after our nation's worst attack.

Marian Fontana was an accomplished comedienne, actress, and writer long before September 2001. Her sense of humor helped get her through her grief, despite her relentless tears. It helped as she became active on behalf of the 9/11 families, fighting with others against ridiculous political issues that surfaced. But this is not a fun book to read. Still, less we forget where we've been, it's so important to stop occasionally and be reminded of those who still grieve every day of their lives for loved ones and friends who perished on 9/11. Especially those who willingly walked into those twin towers trying to save the lives of others - because THAT, in my humble opinion, may be the truest picture of the American spirit.

I learned so much reading this book. Next time you're feeling under the weather, give me a call. I'll be happy to loan it to you.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thankful This Morning . . .

Sometimes we just need to stop and focus on the little things we so often take for granted. This morning, I'm thankful for . . .

A symphony of birdsong during my morning prayer time.

The strangely comforting sound of a train's whistle in the distance.

The contented sigh of the sleeping pup beside me.

A great night's sleep buried under blankets in a nice warm bed.

The convenience of electricity after a transformer blew earlier!

Our Monday nights with Dad coming over for dinner.

A hot shower on a cold night.

Friends who make life rich and so much more colorful.

A husband who works so hard to provide for his family.

An editor/publisher who's given life to my dream.

A roof over my head and hot coffee in my favorite mug.

Prayers answered in ways that can only be GOD.

And last but not least,

My son's first day on his first "real" job after college. Yea Ben!

What are you especially thankful for today?

Monday, March 15, 2010

What's on Your Book Shelf?

Reading is hands-down my favorite past-time. I remember when I was in college and I couldn't wait to graduate so I could read whatever I liked - not just required text books, etc. Since then, I've read hundreds, probably thousands of books. The minute I finish one, I have to start another. Yes, it's true. Another addiction. But could there be a better addiction?

Back in 2004 I started keeping a list of all the books I read each year. It was interesting to see the different genres I was consuming, but I must admit the main reason for the list was so I wouldn't forget what books I'd read. Sad to say, I realized I was starting to read books that seemed vaguely familiar . . . only to discover I'd already read them. Ah, the mind is such a vapor these days. It's one thing to read a favorite book again by choice. Something else entirely when you don't remember one you've already read!

Since January of 2004, I've read 180 books, roughly around 25 a year. As much as I  love to read, I'm actually a very slow reader. I can't skim books. I have to digest them. Or so I tell myself. I also rate them, giving them a 1-5 star evaluation. I've even started keeping a separate list of those I start and can't finish (five last year). Including those I hate so much I throw them across the room.

This year, I've read eight books so far. Here are a few of them:

1. Don't Bet Against Me! Beating the Odds Against Breast Cancer and in Life, by Deanna Favre, with Angie Hunt. "The wife of Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, Deanna was inadvertently thrust into the spotlight when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. . . Deanna's story shares the role her faith has played in her life - from her years as a single mom and her high profile marriage to Brett, to her battle with breast cancer and the work she is currently doing through the HOPE Foundation." (Amazon review) Such a good book, loaded with helpful insights into breast cancer, and a surprisingly intimate peek into the life of this famous family. Don't miss this one!

2.  First Family, by David Balacci. I love Baldacci and this is one of his best. Former Secret Service agents Maxwell and King are hired by the First Lady when her 12-year-old neice is kidnapped after a birthday party at Camp David. Couldn't turn the pages fast enough on this one!
3.  Play for Pizza, by John Grisham. We laughed out loud listeing to this one on audio during a recent trip to Texas (yes, I count audio books). Grisham always gets hammered when he leaves the court room, but I loved this one. Here's the blurb from Amazon: Third-string Cleveland Browns quarterback Rick Dockery becomes the greatest goat ever by throwing three interceptions in the closing minutes of the AFC championship game. Fleeing vengeful fans, he finds refuge in the grungiest corner of professional football, the Italian National Football League as quarterback of the inept but full-of-heart Parma Panthers. I felt like I'd actually been to Italy, tasted their food, driven their tiny cars, and basked in those passionate accents. Fun read. Guys, you'll love this one.

4.  The Heart's Journey Home, by Jen Stephens. My new friend and fellow Nashvillian Jen Stephens' debut novel from my publisher, Sheaf House! The story tells of Kate Sterling's return to her hometown of Harvest Bay, Ohio, along with her young daughter three years after her husband's death. Kate discovers a second chance at love - make that two chances at love. I'm not usually a straight-romance reader, but I really loved this story. Great job, Jen!

5.  Tell No Lies, by Julie Compton. A little steamier than I usually read, but a story right out of today's headlines. I couldn't put this one down, even though I really hated the protagonist. Consider yourself warned if you grab this one off the bookshelf.

6.  Marley & Me, by John Grogan. I already mentioned this one in a previous blog, but I have to say it may be one of my Top Ten all-time favorites. Haven't seen the movie, but I'm confident it can't come close to this beautifully written, hilarious story. Here's what Amazon had to say about it: "Grogan, a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and his wife, Jenny, were newly married and living in West Palm Beach when they decided that owning a dog would give them a foretaste of the parenthood they anticipated. Marley was a sweet, affectionate puppy who grew into a lovably naughty, hyperactive dog. With a light touch, the author details how Marley was kicked out of obedience school after humiliating his instructor (whom Grogan calls Miss Dominatrix) and swallowed an 18-karat solid gold necklace (Grogan describes his gross but hilarious operation)." The subtitle is "Life and Love with the world's worst dog." He may be, but any dog-lover will fall head over paws (sorry) for this lovable Lab. One of the funniest books I've ever read and one I'll definitely read again. I gave it 5 stars!

Now it's your turn. What's on YOUR bookshelf? What have you been reading this year?

Friday, March 12, 2010

"A Life Worth Recording"

Do you journal? Probably not. Most people don't. The writer in me can't help herself, so journaling always came easy for me. And since I'm a notebook junkie, it all works. If you should find me at Barnes & Noble in front of a display case of beautiful journals or hovering near the spiral notebooks on the school supplies aisle at a discount store, chances are I might be hyperventilating. It's hard to breathe when I'm in paper heaven. Feelin' a little woozy just thinking about it . . . quick, hand me a bag to blow into!

Over the past few years it occurred to me that blogging has replaced journaling for lots of people. It's so much easier and faster. And for the things you want to share with others, it's the perfect vehicle for communication. My friend Annie has a blog called "Life on Tara" where she chronicles the lives of her four young children and the adventure of homeschooling. I've told her before how envious I was because she will always have this amazing recorded history of her kids' childhood memories. I remember writing down snippets of my kids' funny anecdotes and memories, but God only knows what happened to them in all our moves.

Then there are the newlyweds who blog about the new chapters in their lives. My daughter Hannah blogs about their hectic but fun-filled life as a couple (it's how I keep up with them - shhhh!). I also enjoying reading "A Love Like This" by Michael and Dana Ritter. Such a fascinating love story, those two, and so fun following their new life together. Dana also shares her love for cooking and the ups & downs in her kitchen. Some of her photographs make my mouth water.

Most of my author friends blog about their writing. Pastors blog about ministry. Hot air balloonists blog about their races. Mountain climbers blog about their treks up Mt. Hood. Scrapbookers blog about, well, scrapbooking. Something for everyone.

But I still think there's a place for private journaling. A place to write down your innermost thoughts and questions, to ponder the complexities of life, or just muse about life in general.

If you know me very well, you know one of my favorite books on the planet is Nicole Johnson's A Fresh-Brewed Life. I'm now on my sixth reading, and I've given away so many copies, I've lost count. For me, it's been a life-changing book. And Nicole's second chapter is about the importance of journaling. Look what she says:

My journal is my constant companion. It is never very far from my reach . . . It is a front porch of solace and retreat when I am tired and weary . . . It is a newspaper column reporting the details of my life. It is a scrapbook collecting oddly shaped pieces of my experiences. And it is a monastery, where I see to sit in the presence of God.

Isn't that inspiring? She continues: A journal is a tool, a flower, a canvas, a safety deposit box, a cup of coffee with a friend. It can hold your dreams, record your life, challenge your thinking, refresh your soul, tickle your sides, and redirect your steps.

And I love this nugget found in the same chapter: Your journal can remind you that you must make a life worth recording. I love that. God gives each of us a beautiful journal called life, filled with empty pages. It's up to us to fill those pages with a life well-lived.It won't be perfect or flawless. But it's ours to write - to "make a life worth recording."

So how about you? Have you ever journaled? What's stopping you? If you need help, I'll be more than happy to go shopping with you for the perfect notebook or journal. Just be sure to bring an oxygen tank.
Just in case.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Dogs We Love

Yesterday, my good friend Terry Young told me they'd had to bury a beloved pet. The sweet Siberian Husky actually belonged to her daughter's family, but they all live on a "compound" in Naples, so Nikka was truly a "family" dog. Hearing about it stirred up memories of our own loss back in 2007 when our Tickles died. My heart still twists every time I pass the animal hospital where we had to put her down. Maybe the hardest thing I've ever had to do. She was such a precious member of our family for 11 years, and I still miss her.

Last week I finished reading Marley & Me by John Grogan. I haven't seen the movie, but the book was hilarious. Grogan is a gifted writer and his stories of "the world's worst dog" kept me in stitches. Until the end, that is, when the big ol' loopy Lab had to be put to sleep. Having walked down that path, I felt the intense heartache he described as if we'd buried Tickles only yesterday.

How is that dogs get so entrenched in our hearts and make themselves at home there? And why do we put ourselves through the agony of such profound grief, knowing that one day we must say good-bye to them? I know, I know. Death is part of life and all that. But with such short life-spans (as compared to humans, I suppose) we face the inevitable much sooner than we'd like. And saying good-bye to a faithful pooch can be excruciating.

Grogan put it this way: "I was embarrassed by how deep my grief went for this dog, deeper than for some humans I had known. It's not that I equated a dog's life with a human's, but outside my immediate family few people had given themselves so selflessly to me."

That explains it. The daily, unconditional love our dogs give us is such a welcome gift in a world that often makes us crazy. Politicians may be ruining our country, the economy may be squeezing the breath out of us, our hearts may be hurting for those devastated by all these natural disasters . . . but when my sweet puppy crawls up in my lap, lays her head against my chest and lets out a contented sigh, I know I'm gonna be okay.

And that's why, after burying such beloved friends, we soon find ourselves looking for a new pup to love. That's why we welcome them into hearts, in spite of "the inevitable" that looms a few years down the road. And that's why they're called man's best friend.

I thought I could never love another dog like I loved Tickles. But about six months after we lost her, we brought home a tiny black bundle of fur. She was completely different from Tickles, but oh my gosh, did she ever love me! I should have named her Velcro because she attaches herself to me 24/7. She always shadows me from room to room, even insisting on following into the bathroom. If I'm away from home for even a couple of hours, Ken tells me she sits on a chair in his office trembling. Separation anxiety much? Yeah. She's a little wacky in some regards. If she's gone with us on an outing, as we come back into the house, she rushes inside and starts her Welcome Home dance, as if she'd been there the whole time! How silly is that? But you better believe we love it every time she does the Darby Doo!

About a year ago, Dave & Sue Manginelli (our nephew and his wife, also one of my best friends) had to say good-bye to their baby, Bernie. He was their child, their son, and in so many ways, their life. And oh, how I loved that dog! Still do. I have to admit Bernie was one of a kind. The unabashed adoration he showered on those he loved was a power to be reckoned with. If you quietly began singing Happy Birthday, Bernie would start singing along, howling with his head back in canine bliss! We got to dog-sit my puppy-nephew on several occasions and it was always felt like having a rock star in our home. I wasn't sure Sue & Dave would ever fully recover from Bernie's sudden death in 2008, but they did. To soften their grief, they poured their emotions into rescuing THREE sweet puppies. Bernie wrote them a letter (channeled via yours truly) not long after they brought their three girls home, making sure Dave & Sue were cognizant of the fact it took THREE GIRLS to take his place. Though truth be told, no one ever could.

Such a long post but such a heart-felt subject. Just feelin' a little puppy love today, I guess. Terry, I'm so sorry for your loss. Someday in the not-too-distant future, may you and your family enjoy the pitter-patter of puppy paws once again.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, Morlee Maynard!

I have the coolest sister on the planet and today is her birthday! I get to spend the day with her, then we'll join the rest of our family tonight for dinner at Olive Garden. Morlee and I love spending time together, but that wasn't always the case. It was just us two, no other sisters or brothers. And like most siblings, we had some rough spots in our relationship, especially when we were younger. It didn't help that she was the perfect child - or so it seemed from my point of view in her shadow. She's 20 months older than me and has excelled in everything - stellar report cards and a permanent spot on the honor roll; a gifted musician, both vocally and on the clarinet and bassoon; one who's always brimming with new ideas and the enthusiasm to see them through; and a tireless discipline to keep all the plates in her life spinning in perfect rhythm. I could go on and on. Literally.

For the record, my handwriting is way better than hers. But that's about the only way I outshine Little Miss Perfect. She's left-handed and I love to tell people she writes with her left foot. Or so it appears. Just my lame attempt to keep some balance in our sisterly equation.

While I admit to being a little jealous through the years, the fact is I love my sister and can't imagine life without her. We hadn't lived in the same town since 1979 when we both lived briefly in Memphis, TN. Then in 1999, exactly 20 years later, my family and I moved here to the Nashville area. Since then, she's become not just my sister, but my dearest friend. On her 50th birthday I kidnapped her and took her to a bed & breakfast about an hour from here. I loved shocking her and we had such a blast. These days, we steal away for chats at Starbucks, sneak off to see a chick flick now & then, and talk every day by phone. We once went to an RV show and dreamed of someday traveling the country in a fancy 5th-wheeler, visiting all the presidential libraries. Who has time to get old when you've got plans like that with someone you love, amen?

It's always been one of my missions in life to make my sister laugh until she can't breathe. (In our family, she made the grades, I was the class clown.) I never give up, and I must say I'm pretty darn good at it! As a kid I was always throwing up which used to freak her out. To this day I can say the word "vomit" and she shudders and gets that gross taste in her mouth. Naturally, I find every opportunity I can to discuss the topic of regurgitation.

I was never more proud of her than in December of 2002 when I watched her receive her doctorate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. WOW! My sister, the doctor! She recently retired after 30 years at LifeWay Church Resources, the Southern Baptist publishing company headquartered here in Nashville. Not long after she started working at LifeWay (known back then as the Baptist Sunday School Board), she was asked to speak at the weekly chapel service. The young credit manager for the Sunday School Board was in the audience that day. Impressed by her message and charm, he quickly made an effort to meet her. His efforts paid off, and Morlee and Ken Maynard were married less than a year later. In 1986, they had a a beautiful baby boy, my handsome nephew Jonathan.

It's hard to put into words how much my sister means to me. I haven't come even close here. Mostly I just feel incredibly blessed to have this amazing and precious friend in my life who just happens to be my sister.

 Happy Birthday, Sis! I love you!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Little Spring in Our Step?

FINALLY! Some spring-like weather in Nashville! It's supposed to hit 68 degrees today and we are LOVING it! You know the weather is improving when our resident golfer is up out of bed before 8:30 in the morning! (Just so you know, he's not a slacker - he's still job-hunting!) But who can pass up a chance to play FREE GOLF at a beautiful private course on a day like this? I ask you! 

Before he left the house, I snapped this shot of him getting some puppy love from Darby. Our sweet little malti-poo (not-so-much "malti" but a whole lotta "poo") had a rough weekend of seizures followed by the strange, bizarre "zone" she goes into after them. So it was nice to have our Darby back to normal this morning. And oh, how she loves her some Ben, any day, any time! (Thankfully she has an appointment at the doggie spa later this week!)

So tell me, what "signs" are you enjoying today that spring is on the way?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscar Night

Ken & I are huge movie buffs. Several times a week, we relax at the end of the day by popping in a DVD to watch. When our son Ben worked at a local movie theater while he was in high school, we got free passes whenever we wanted them. Perks of his job and we loved it! Now we rarely go out to see movies, opting to save a little cash by waiting for them on Netflix or OnDemand.

When the Oscars come along, we usually watch just for fun. This year, I'm rooting for Blind Side, the story of NFL player Michael Oher and the Tuohy family of Memphis who took him off the streets. Sandra Bullock was fantastic. The movie is up for Best Picture, and Bullock is nominated for Best Actress.

But I'm torn. I also ADORED Julie & Julia. In fact, we watched it again last night. Meryl Streep was brilliant as Julia Childs! We laughed out loud just at the tones of her voice and mannerisms. "Bon appetite!" I actually think her portrayal of the quirky famous cook deserves the Oscar for Best Actress, even though I loved Sandra Bullock's performance in Blind Side. Stanley Tucci was delightful as Julia Child's husband.

But will someone please tell me why Hollywood always feels the need to drop at least one F*bomb in a movie where it's completely out of place? It was so unnecessary!

Of course Hollywood has its own set of criteria for these things. I'm sure Avatar will take home an armload of statues, but I am SO done with special effects. I have not seen it and don't plan to. And not just because I get a migraine just hearing the word IMAX. I also despise the message of that movie. Evil man destroying planet Earth. Gee, there's an original plot. Mr. Cameron, I loved Titanic but you can keep your politically correct world of Avatar. And that's all I have to say about that.

So we'll pop some popcorn, star gaze during the Red Carpet, then cheer on my two favorite movies of the year.

Who will YOU be cheering for?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday's Verse

I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

I love this verse. And I cling to it with all I've got, especially whenever the going gets rough. It reminds me that no matter what happens, I'll get through it because I'm not alone. It reminds me that He's always there for me, in the good times and the bad.

But it also reminds me where to keep MY focus. I have set the Lord continually before me. Not beside me. Not behind me. Before me. Where I can more easily follow His lead. I have only to look up and see Him there ahead of me, then follow in His footsteps.

I was always curious why the Bible so often places so much significance on the "right hand." I did a little research and learned that it signifies a place of distinction, favor and honor; a place of wisdom. So if He is at "my right hand," I have acknowledged His authority, giving Him that position of honor and wisdom. I have recognized He is worthy to lead me and guide me.

I don't know about you, but in these days of such confusion and angst and uncertainty, that's exactly where He needs to be! I gladly step aside and give Him the controls.

How about you?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Following me yet?

Embarrassing to have to post this, but here it is. If you've signed up to follow me, would you let me know via email (dianemoody@comcast.net)? Apparently my "Followers" aren't coming through and I'm a bit baffled what to do about it. I am SO cyber-challenged. Scoured the HELP section on Blogspot and I'm not finding a solution.

Suggestions? Anyone?

Until then, have a glorious weekend!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

God is soooooo good

Sometimes I feel so isolated here, parked in front of my computer for hours on end. Yesterday I was lost inside that world, launching this blog and working on book edits, etc. Then late last night I found a text message from one of my dearest friends on my cell phone. After years of praying, her prodigal son has come home. Well, not under her roof, but in his words, "God broke me tonight." He apologized for the heartache he's given her over the years. This, from a kid who just a couple weeks ago was just moments away (as in, waiting at his gate in the airport) from moving to Australia just for the heck of it. But something stopped him.

Or should I say "Someone."

In the midst of heartache over our kids, when we read the words of Proverbs 22:6 telling us to "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it," sometimes it all just sounds like an empty promise. But God doesn't give empty promises. We may not see answers to our prayers on our own timetables, but He will never ignore our prayers.

I cried like a baby when I read that text message. And today I'm praising God for the return of this precious prodigal, and thanking Him for answering our prayers concerning him. I'm also lifting up a special prayer for ALL those prodigals who have yet to come home.

As the plaque on my wall says, "Never never never give up." AMEN?!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Enough is Enough

I promise my posts won't always be so tragic and heavy, or so lengthy. But I have to write this today. I can't-NOT write it. So bear with me.

It's happened again. This time her name is Chelsea King. Seventeen years old. High school senior. Beautiful daughter, full of life. Her body was discovered yesterday in a shallow grave near the park where she jogged. She had been raped and murdered by a registered sex offender.

Every time the news blasts another "child gone missing" story - whether the child is 3 or 13 or 23 - I feel the return of a familiar knot in my stomach. As if I begin to embody the horror of those parents waiting anxiously for news of their child. Can there be any worse nightmare for a mother or father?

And once again I get angry. SO angry. Why does this keep happening? And when will we recognize that this is an epidemic that MUST be stopped?

God bless John Walsh for using the grief he bore after losing his 6-year-old son Adam to help establish the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

God bless Oprah for establishing Oprah's Child Predator Watch List in 2005, putting up $100,000 of her own money as a reward for the capture of anyone on that list. "I have had enough," Oprah said. "With every breath in my body, whatever it takes and, most importantly, with you by my side, we are going to move heaven and earth to stop an evil that's been going on for far too long."

But it's still not enough. You and I have to stop lamenting how sad these assaults and murders are, and start doing something about it. We all applaud Mothers Against Drunk Drivers for their efforts to get drunks off the road. So why don't we launch a nation-wide war against sexual predators? When will we, like Oprah, say we've had enough? When will we cry out WE'RE MAD AS HELL AND WE'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!

There has to be some way to be proactive in this. There has to be a better option than just picking up the bad guys after the crime is done. I don't begin to know how to go about that, but surely someone out there does. Someone who understands the mind of a predator and what makes them behave as they do. On the Today Show this morning, Cliff Van Zant, a criminal profiler suggested that instead of going to the moon again, we should take better care of our business at home and DO something about this epidemic.

I don't have the answers, but this much I do know: at the altar of political correctness, we have sacrificed the lives of these children. By tip-toeing around the multi-billion dollar pornography industry under the guise of "freedom of speech," we have allowed Pandora's Box to be opened and it will never again be closed. Ironically, "censorship" has become the dirty word here. Porn offers every form of vile and despicable behavior out there - sex with babies, sex with children, sex with animals, sex with dead people . . . Yet we dismiss it as some kind of protected "artistic expression," never giving another thought to the life-changing damage it brings to marriages, families, and yes, even to innocent children.

And we don't just dismiss it. We laugh at it. How many TV shows like "Friends" treat porn like some kind of cherished favorite past time? Oh look! Monica gave Chandler porn for his birthday! Is she the best wife or WHAT?

Yeah. Very funny.

But lose the humor and connect the dots here. Are we really so blind that we don't see the correlation between the rampant sexual exploitation in the porn industry to the alarming increase in the numbers of sexual predators willing to act out their perverted fantasies on our kids? Is it not possible pornography is like crack cocaine feeding the insatiable appetites of these predators?

Chelsea King's assailant, John Albert Gardner III (30) has a 10-year history of assaults against women and girls. Years ago a court psychiatrist wrote on his file, "Not a good candidate for treatment." Yet he was out on the street. And tonight, Chelsea's friends and family are in mourning.

When will enough be enough?

Sadly, I don't think most people care enough to do anything about it. Until it's THEIR son or daughter who goes missing.

Imagine, for a moment. Your little girl didn't come home from school today. They tell you she got off the bus but she hasn't been seen since. You know she would never wander off. And in your gut, you know. She's gone and chances are good you'll never see her again. Every moment that passes fills you with unspeakable grief. Hours go by. Then days. And weeks. Maybe months. And you would gladly kill for just one more chance to hear her laughter, see her smile. To inhale the scent of her. To feel her arms around your waist.

Oh God, I pray it never happens to you.

So I have to ask you one more time. When will enough be enough?